The temperature is well below freezing, has been so for the past several days, and so when it started to snow this afternoon, it collected as dust, dry bits of white that the wind rustled back and forth across the ground. It was a beautiful sight to see. Usually when it snows in New York, the temperature is right around the freezing mark and the snow is wetter, stays where it lands. Today, it danced around back and forth across the ground, being swept that way and then this.
I walked through Union Square on my way home from work, down to the L train. The park was empty. It is too bad that it takes below freezing temperatures and snow to clear that park of all the annoying people that normally inhabit it, the representatives from just about every spectrum of annoying New Yorkers that normally occupy the space: guys giving out free hugs, chess players, skateboarders, teenagers in groups, hacky sack players, Falung Gong people, Occupy people, smokers without cigarettes asking to bum them from smokers with cigarettes, safe pieces of art for sale under the pretense of something else, a sheen of something approximating an idea of New York a potential buyer may have had when they were into reading the Beats, children being pushed in strollers by rich moms out to look at locally grown produce in attempts to assuage guilt never fully admitted to about their life in this city, the people who with their hostility take up whole benches for themselves and their anger, the folks with nowhere to go who make angry those more insecure about their lack of anywhere to go, and the police on the edge observing it all, making it exist, this collection of crazy formed against this threat of order with arms crossed on the 14th Street side of the park.
Today, though, the park was beautifully free of all of this.
It was just me and George Washington atop his horse, his arm raised, stretched forward ahead of him, pointing south. I have always wanted to know what it was that he was looking toward, what in his future, what in our future, it was that he might have glimpsed out their on the horizon that day, what that look is in his eyes up their on the horse, what it is that he sees. Today, with the park clear of most people, the snow falling lightly, and George and I sharing a moment in this nice space, I thought about this even more than I normally do on walks through Union Square.
I stopped in Duane Reade, purchased some toiletries that I am going to need on my trip and then tried to navigate the short walk to the subway entrance from there to avoid the Greenpeace people that try to get you to give money. It's them and the HRC people - perhaps the most annoying people in this city - these fundraisers who block sidewalks and try to stop you when you're in a huge hurry by guilt-tripping you or complimenting you or saying something that they think is clever, something to make you pause, stop, sign, give. I did the same thing in Madison for PIRG for all of two days and know what a terrible job it is. That doesn't mean though that I have time to stop and tell them that I can't give them any money today, sorry, I'm really in a hurry, sorry. Instead, I avert my eyes, try to as look as hurried as possible, that I am on a mission, someone that they should just ignore. I want them to look for another target. I don't want to be the person that they eye walking down the street and say this guy looks easy to convince, someone with liberal leanings that will stop when we mention a liberal cause, will not walk right past us, say that this is the guy I have to stop, this is the guy who will help me meet my numbers for the day. I want to be the person that they ignore as they look for someone sappier looking. Despite this, because of this, a landmine blew up that I thought I had cleard. The Greenpeace guy sidestepped into the path I had been speed-walking in, caught me, said, "Hey, you look like you need a friend."
I had just gone to the gym not too long before this and my body was still pumping with aggression and endorphins. I wanted to tackle this man and punch him in the face. Over and over again. I often have these violent fantasies, flashes of red that cover my vision, when my mood, my ability to get lost in thought on these city streets, is cut short by one of these fundraisers with their annoying shit, with their constant tugging at your already tugged-at attention. The same flash of red came over me, the same brief desire for cartoon violence on all of these people occurred yesterday. Some smiley man from Greenpeace said to me on 23rd Street: "It looks like someone took their handsome pills this morning." I don't know want that means - I don't know where they come up with this shit, but I hate that they have made me wary of any interactions on the sidewalks, that now I have to be guarded, always look busy so that I don't have to talk to every fundraiser on the street. I am surprised there aren't constant news stories about assaults against these people. They, unlike everyone else that normally annoys me, were undeterred by the snow today, making them absolutely the most annoying people in New York City.
I came home and I packed. Tomorrow night, I fly to Istanbul. Two days later, to Rome. I will be swept that way and then this.